Name: Joey Sielen
Frame: Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Alloy
Shock: Fox Float X
Fork: 160mm RockShox Pike Ultimate
Wheels: Hope Pro 4 Hubs, Revel RW30 rims
Tires: Specialized Butcher Trail T9
Drivetrain: Sram XX1 AXS derailleur, XO1 cassette, Cane Creek eeWings cranks
Pedals: Shimano XT
Brakes: Code RSC 200mm front, 180mm rear
Cockpit: OneUp 20mm bar, 770 width, Tenet Nora V2.5 37mm, Deity SlimFit grips
Dropper: OneUp 180mm
Saddle: Specialized Power Arc Expert 143mm
When did your passion for cycling begin?
I got into mountain biking in 1996. The Olympics were coming to Atlanta and it was the first year they were going to have XC. I remember having a Mountain Bike Action Magazine that had all the cross country racers on the cover, like Tinker Juarez and Ned Overend. I saw it at a grocery store and thought it was the coolest. My brother bought the magazine and we were flipping through the pages and I saw the bike that got me into mountain biking. A Cannondale Super V DH Active. Like Ferrari red, with yellow lettering. It had inverted stanchions, and it was just the coolest thing I had ever seen. I even wrote a paper on it in the fifth grade. I was like, “this is going to be my sport, this is the thing I’m going to get into.”
What has your career path in the cycling industry been up until this point?
I’ve been in the cycling industry for about ten years and I’ve been passionate about cycling for twenty-six years. I always thought I was going to be a cross country racer and that’d be my career, I had decent speed and thought “Yeah, I’ll just get on a decent mountain bike, pedal really hard and I’ll be a pro.”
I became a cook and did that for a bunch of years, and rode my bike every day and commuted on my bike. I just kept getting inundated with mountain bikes in my life. My friends were doing it and my brother got back into it. I was going to the cool local shop and every time I went in, the owner said, “Joey, you gotta come work for me. I need someone like you on the team” and I was like, “I make more money cooking, I work for a union, I have insurance, I can’t just, ‘go work for you.’ ”
I eventually got fed up cooking, and burned out after about ten years. I told that guy I’d work there part-time. I was fixing up commuter bikes, I mean just garbage bikes. We had a trade-in program, when buying a new bike customers could trade in an old bike for a discount. We would have a shipping container full of old bikes by the end of the summer and we would have to fix them up and sell them for dirt cheap. That was 2012 and the next year I worked there again. Then I quit my cooking job full-time, I just left it completely.
I worked at the bike shop for another year and then I decided I’d move out to Washington with no career path whatsoever. It took a little while. I worked at a couple of shops here, always as a wrench, always wrenching on bikes. I like talking to customers, I can sell bikes but I like working on them mostly. My career at Fanatik has changed dramatically in the past four years. I started as a mechanic part-time, then full-time mechanic, then weekend service manager, then full-time service manager, and now general manager. I love this job, I don’t really want to go any bigger than this. I could see another ten years here super happy, working with some of the coolest people and best mountain bikers I know.
What has been the biggest change going from wrenching to a managerial position?
Well, my hands are cleaner, that’s probably the biggest change. I'm still sore but in different ways. I used to have really sore forearms from building wheels all day. My best year I think I built 700 wheels. Now I just get tired from sitting in a chair all day and have to get up and walk around.
What attracted you to the Stumpjumper Evo?
I come from a cross-country racing background. While I like going uphill fast, I do like descending, so I have to be able to do both. But, when it came to a mountain bike, I wanted to be able to do long rides with Bill because he has that same cross country background. Then I wanted to have some chance of keeping up with you or Rich on the descents. Rich has that Dreadnaught. I’m never going to keep up with him but if we did ride together we’d have a good time.
What geo settings are you using?
I like a steeper bike. I have it in the Steep/Steep position. It does climb exceptionally well. Now, it’s not like the Epic. It’s not going to sprint up the hill but I haven't found anything where I had any issues. It has a high enough bottom bracket where I can pedal over everything going uphill.
For someone who went for such a lightweight/trail-oriented build, why alloy over carbon?
That’s a tough one. I have a hard time buying a carbon bike full-suspension mountain bike. Just on a mountain bike I just want it to be alloy. There's a quality to it; I like the welds. The welds on the Stumpjumper look really good. Now I probably could have gone lighter with carbon but I just wanted to keep it real.
Now I could probably drop a quarter of a pound by doing lighter-weight tires. I have the T9s on there. This time of year I want something super grippy and knobby. Tires are everything so I went with something grippy.
What have your first impressions of the bike been?
The first ride I remember going up the ridge on Galbraith and it went over everything that I wanted it to. I did a basic setup in the shop, set up the suspension. Made sure I had like 20-25% sag and went out and pedaled. Climbing has been great and descending has been fun. I haven’t found the limit yet, which is always a fun and terrifying thing.
What is your favorite component on your bike?
Well, I have AXS on this bike. I never really thought I’d put AXS on a bike. I mean appreciate it, I understand how cool it is. I think it’s brilliant. It’s a great concept and maybe changing how we work on bikes. I do have the XX1 on there and I go back and am like “Damn, that’s cool”.
I also have the Cane Creek eeWings on there. Those are demos we had and I just grabbed those. Not because I think the bike needed it, but when I was building the bike we had almost no cranksets in stock. I didn’t want to grab something in inventory that a customer could buy. I didn’t want to use something that might finish someone’s build so I just grabbed a demo set. Now that it’s on there it looks really good.
If you could ride your bike on any trail in the world right now, which would it be and why?
One of my favorite trails on Galbraith is Irish Death. It’s chunky, it’s fast when it needs to be, and it’s technical. That trail reminds me so much of what I thought downhill racing in the 90s was. I didn’t have cable TV, I only saw it in the magazines. It was always photos of someone on a technical descent. That just says, “mountain biking” to me. That would be the one trail that I wish I could make five times as long.
Interview and editing by BK Stancil
All photos by Doug Jambor
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